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Mixed feelings from Alstom workers

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 01:41

Factory workers at Alstom's historic plant in eastern France express both their relief and their concern at General Electric winning the bid to partner the French engineering firm. Hayley Platt reports.

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There were mixed emotions for factory workers at the French engineering firm Alstom. After months of uncertainty the French government finally approved General Electric's revised bid. The near 17 billion euros deal will see GE take over most of Alstom's energy business, a big relief of many of its staff. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALSTOM ENGINEER PIERRE-OLIVIER THERIOT SAYING: "For Belfort, it will mean the creation of a centre of excellence at a European level, even at a world level, in the energy sector. And the activities of Alstom and GE are complementary, so we are not in the same markets." Workers at Alstom's historic site may not notice much of change. They've been working side by side with GE staff for years, albeit in different factories on the same site. They even share a canteen. Still there are concerns about job security. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALSTOM ENGINEER NICOLAS LEVET SAYING: "We don't know exactly which jobs will be guaranteed, if the 1,000 jobs announced will really mean the creation of 100 jobs or if they are going to cut some jobs in order to create others elsewhere... we're still not very clear." The deal may be good news for French industrial firm Bouygues. At the weekend, it gave the government an option to buy 20 percent of Alstom - in other words, most of a 29 per cent stake that's valued at around 1.7 billion euros. Any cash it does eventually get from the deal would help support its flagging telecoms business. James Bevan of CCLA, says overall, it's a messy affair. SOUNDBITE: James Bevan, chief investment officer, CCLA, saying (English): "If you were to anticipate that stock markets really favour only open market solutions, that's not what we've got and I do think there's a certain sense of muddle. I would be avoiding Alstom as an investment." The future of Alstom, which employees around 18,000 people in France, is key for Hollande's government. At a time when it's battling to reduce a huge trade deficit and record unemployment.

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Mixed feelings from Alstom workers

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 01:41